Pastor Maurice Johnson of the non-denominational Winners Church in Queens gives sermons, titled "The Power and Pleasure of Romance," to highlight the importance of marriage in the African-American community, the New York Post reported Saturday.
"Some people were like, 'It seems strange to do at church,'" he said, "but they thought it was very creative."
During services, held in the PS 38 gym in the Queens borough's Rosedale neighborhood, four married couples are asked to approach the pulpit. Then, accompanied by R&B music, the couples demonstrate their passion by making out for 5 minutes.
The congregation then chooses a winning couple by applause. The most amorous pair win $50 to spend on a date.
"You see kissing in all kinds of contexts, but you don't necessarily see it in a marriage context," said Frantz Cochy, 39, who won the contest with his wife of 13 years, Makeetah, 36. "I wasn't embarrassed, but I guess I felt a little awkward."
Johnson, 39, told the Post that showering your spouse with physical affection is a good way to strengthen a romantic partnership.
"God created a desire for love and romance," Johnson said.
"Any society that celebrates marriage, romance and love is going to be a free society. Public displays of affection aren't wrong. Adam and Eve were naked, and they were not ashamed."